To Link Or Not To Link, That Is The Qustion
Question: I recently launched a new website. To increase traffic, I listed my site link at a few relevant free listing sites. Now, I'm getting lots of requests for me to link back to their sites and other sites. Should I do this? Mary in Idaho
Answer: Not as a rule.You all know how I feel about link love. It's like life. The more you give, the more you get. But like all things, even link love has it's limits. And just like all relationships, link love can be destroyed by incompatibility.
It seems like Mary got carried away with trying to drive up her search engine rankings and site visitors by listing her site at other sites for free. The logic was that if people visit the sites where she is listed and then click on her site link, it might increase her site statistics and maybe even sales. In other words, she wanted something for nothing.
I'm not saying that those sites and her link at them have zero value. But they can't compare to things Mary can do inexpensively on her own to increase her site's visiblity.
Now that Mary's getting a slew of new spam, my first suggestion is to do what you do with all spam. Delete it. Sure, there may be a few link exchange requests worth honoring, and that's fine. But you should exchange links only after analyzing what's in it for your site. Don't do it just because someone has linked to you and asked nicely that you link to them in return.
Here are a few tips to help you analyze whether you should exchange links with another site.
1. Link Exchanges Should Be Relevant. If you link out to a site, make sure the link is relevant. For example, if you have a bath and body products business, it may make sense to link out to complementary product related sites such as those selling candles, aromatherapy products or perfume.
But if you link out to a site just because they ask you to, or just because they've linked to you, you may be linking to a site that is so irrelevant that it devalues the overall impact of your site. For example, exchanging links with a company that sells information technology products or panty hose when your site has nothing to do with those things makes your site look desperate or terribly unfocused.
2. Link Exchanges Should Be Fair. If you decide that a link exchange would be relevant, you next need to decide whether it's an even exchange. If your site gets 1,000 visitors per day and a person who wants to exchange links with you gets that many visitors in an entire month, you are on the bad end of a losing exchange because you're giving them 1,000 potential new clicks a day while they are giving you only about 33 potential clicks a day. This is not a good deal for you.
3. Link Exchanges Should Be Monitored. Don't exchange links with people and then forget all about them. Websites change, yours and theirs, and you don't want to continue an exchange after its worn out its welcome. Check the sites you link to regularly to make sure you are not unwittingly associating your brand with incompatiable sites. When an exchange is no longer working for you, terminate the exchange.
While link exchanges can be valuable, there are other potentially more valuable online activities that will promote your business and enhance online statistics and sales, and one of them is blogging. Blogging allows you to link out to relevant sites simply because they are relevant. (Imagine that!!) Your customers will love this, and they will visit your blog often to see all the interesting and relevant things you share with them. And that translates into brand awareness and sales that serve your business in the long term, particularly if you create fun and entertaining ways to link blog posts to the online pages where your shopping cart resides.